10 Things I Want to Do with My Kids As Easter Approaches

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With ten days until Easter, I’m making some goals on how to make those days spiritually meaningful for me and my family.

Lately my kids are just little spiritual sponges. I’ve had more theological discussions with these little people in the last month than I have had with anyone in a long time. It’s been amazing what insightful questions they ask.

They are so much wiser than I.

All the talk got me thinking about ways to enhance our collective faith walk. As usual, I realized that Easter has snuck up on me. Since we are not of a tradition that observes Lent in a practical way, ie. no dietary restrictions, this happens every year. I may need to rethink that practice, huh?

There are ten days left until Easter. Every year I have high hopes for doing meaningful activities during Holy Week. And every year life gets in the way.

Yet, Easter is the hinge point of our faith.

Without Easter, there is no hope. Without Jesus’ death and ressurrection, Christianity is just a bunch of do-gooders striving after thin air. So, I’m looking forward to make the most of the ten days that remain.

I spent time yesterday digging out all the Easter resources I could find and piled them in my big office chair. My girls and my littler guys keep eyeing the pile with anticipation. When can we do…. is a constant refrain.

Now…. if I can really pull this off!

Here’s the plan (and head’s up! If you make a purchase through the Amazon links below, I receive a small percentage of the sale):

1. Read the Gospels.

The boys and I have been working through the Old Testament this year as we study Ancient History. However, our recent personal struggles and ensuing spiritual conversations have shown me we need to shift our study to Jesus’ life. Tuesday, we started reading the gospels. It’s my hope that we’ll have good conversations about Jesus and his life on Earth.

While the bigger boys can follow along through “the real Bible,” I’m reading the Gospel sections from The Jesus Storybook Bible to my littles. They love this book and since we have the accompanying CDs, they often listen to the stories throughout the day. It’s a paraphase, but it’s done simply and in a very accessible manner for young children.

2. Watch the Jesus Movie for Children.

It’s been awhile since we last watched this movie. The last time, I remember one of my little guys bursting out into tears. Clearly, it’s a moving experience. I’m not sure how they will respond this time.

Consider previewing it if you think your family would benefit from that. There are two versions (for adults and for children) on the DVD we own, but you can watch both online for FREE. They also make available a number of foreign language versions as well.

3. Bake Jesus Cookies.

I’ve been wanting to do an Easter version of our Jesus cookies for years. After browsing this post of Jesus-focused Easter activities, I was inspired to go through my cookie cutter collection and cull the ones that fit the themes of Jesus’ ministry. I ordered a few via Amazon Prime, and we’ll be baking up a storm this weekend. Here’s how it worked out for us recently.

Our list of cookie cutters includes:

  • letters spelling out: Jesus, God with us
  • a sailboat – He controls the wind and the sea
  • a hand and foot – The Servant king washing the feet of others, as well as the crucifixion
  • a donkey – for His triumphal entry
  • a tree – for Zaccheus, as well as to go with The Tale of Three Trees
  • a praying man – for the mount of olives
  • a lamb – Jesus is our sacrifice
  • a music note – even the stones would praise him
  • a dove – He is the prince of peace
  • a goblet – for the last supper
  • a crown – He is the king of kings

4. Go fly kites.

Hubs and I have fabulous memories of our first Easter together. We went to church, out to breakfast with his dad, and then bike riding through Santa Barbara. Sunburned and exhilarated, we drank rootbeers from a gas station, sitting on a curb. Then we bought a kite at the drugstore and flew it in a field at his old elementary school. Lastly, we biked to a local pizza place.

I’m not sure the 8 of us can swing a bike ride all over town, but the kite flying and root beer are totally doable. And reminiscent of how Jesus controls both the wind and the sea.

5. Make pretzels.

Pretzels, in the shape of praying hands, have their roots deep in Easter tradition. And they taste great!

6. “Do” the Resurrection Eggs.

My girls have gone ga-ga over the boxes of eggs I dug out of the garage. I found sets of Eggs years ago on clearance so we have plenty to go around and create an egg hunt and then talk about the meaning of each egg. I also ordered a copy of Benjamin’s Box to go with.

You can make your own version of Resurrection Eggs pretty easily.

7. Bake Hot Cross Buns.

We are huge anglo-philes here. We’re planning a FishFam European Vacation for 2014, so maybe we’ll actually get to visit England sometime. In the meantime, we’ll enjoy homemade Hot Cross Buns.

8. Dye eggs and read stories.

We don’t “do” the Easter Bunny, Santa, or the Tooth Fairy around here. Probably fodder for another post. But, I’ve made peace with dying eggs and hanging stockings, especially if our focus is in the right place.

This year I want to try natural egg dyes. I’ve got beets and red cabbage from the produce box and am going to pick up a few other items so that we can dye eggs. We’ll also read The Legend of the Easter Egg and talk about why it might have become an Easter tradition in the first place.

I also found quite a few Easter books on our shelves and ordered one or two more.

9. Bake an Empty Tomb Resurrection Cake

I created this cake years ago and it was so fun, especially since Playmobil now creates historically accurate figures. History geeks like me will go crazy! In years prior, we recruited a Playmobil guy to play Jesus after the resurrection. The Empty Tomb Cake is another rendition of the same message, “He is Risen; He is Risen, indeed.”

10. Focus on new life and fresh starts.

My children and I all struggle with making mistakes. I would like to say that we have a pretty mellow household when it comes to “correction.” Smoke seeps out of my ears only a few times a week! Yet, none of us likes to make mistakes and it’s hard to forgive oneself. I see that in myself. But, I also see that in my kids.

We know that Easter is about “new life” and “new beginnings.” Jesus conquered sin and death, we have abundance, we have new life in Him. It’s hard to remember that when the day after Easter comes.

None of us is perfect, but Christ is working in His people. And so, this week should be a time to consider with Paul, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

I want my days with my children to be filled with grace, patience, and forgiveness. I woefully fall short of this. But, it’s my hope (in Christ) to do better. And for them to share that hope as well.

What good things do YOU have planned for Easter?

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  1. I so appreciated this blog! I think we all try to look for ways to teach and train our children in what we believe and why we believe it, but struggle to find creative ways to do it. As a busy momma I find time to be my worst enemy! Thanks for posting this – I’ve already shared it with some other busy mommas! Our family will be doing a lot of the things posted on this page this Easter weekend. Thanks again!

  2. Where in the gospels does Jesus preach His death burial and resurrection for forgiveness of sin for the whole world? Where does the 12 ever preach that in the gospels? They don’t even know it. Peter and the others had no idea even that He would be raised again the third day. They went home. They weren’t waiting outside the tomb on the third day for Him to resurrect. Mary was there only to make His dead body smell better. And she found the tomb open only THEN did Peter and the others find out that He was alive when she told them. We only find out in Paul’s writings about what really happened at the cross. He tells us how our sins were forgiven and the glorious cross of Christ where He died to save us. The gospels don’t give us the meaning. Even Peter in Acts 2 wasn’t preaching the cross as a good thing. He preached that Israel killed their Messiah, not that He died for them.

  3. Where did you find the Resurrection Eggs on sale? I made my own last year and just don’t want to spend $13 for a fancy set. Last year and this year, I have been wishing I’d just put it together as it is in the book, in a treasure box. I’ve looked on and off for them and they are expensive too. It’s one of those things that would be great to find at a yard sale. Also, I wanted to let you know that I found a cute set of cookie cutters at the 99c Only store. They have a lamb, a butterfly, and a few others that could be worked into an Easter theme. I mostly bought it for the lamb.

  4. Love this! Thanks Jess.
    Just did a little Easter post/round-up on my blog yesterday… Am going to link yours there as well as you have some great and unique ideas. I especially like your #10. Great call!

  5. We also don’t come from a tradition that celebrates Lent. However, my husband and I have been talking about incorporating more of the church calendar into our home. It seems we miss so much by not being more firmly planted in our Christian heritage.

  6. Thank you for sharing your Easter stories/traditions and recipes. I love your humility and love for Christ! God is smiling at you right now, it warms my heart :0). Your Resurrection cake is amazing, I wish my kids were young again, will share it with my daughter in NC., so she can do some of these activities with my very missed granddaughters, I live in CA. Gods richest blessing to you and your family in this holy season!

  7. I like the idea of the Jesus cookies. I hadn’t heard of that before.
    We haven’t done Lent before, but I have enjoyed doing Advent the past few years, and I’m hoping to do more for Lent next year.
    The last 2 years we were in the States, I did the hot cross buns (I think I got the idea from you!) But her in a hard to access area of the Congo with no butter, raisins or other dried fruit, or powdered sugar, it’s not not quite the same.
    But this year we are doing resurrection rolls. My husband had to go to the capital city to medically evacuate someone and managed to find marshmallows while he was there! Plus my in-laws sent us an Easter dye kit, so we’re hoping to be able to find enough eggs to dye some. 🙂

  8. Jessica, How old are your kids that you have watch the Children’s Jesus film? I’m just wondering if it would be too much for my son. We’ve read the story Bible lots of times and Benjamin’s Box, but seeing it in a film might be another story. Just wondering what you’ve experienced with that since you have five more kids than I do. 🙂

    1. Sorry for the delay in answering. I was just praying about this for my littlest ones this morning and remembered I still needed to answer your question. I honestly can’t remember how old the kids were the last few times we saw this. Guessing they were 10, 6, 4, and 2. My 4-yo sobbed at the crucifixion. It’s not gory, but it is fairly realistic with the nails, etc. No body remembers it, though, so I guess it didn’t scar them for life.

      1. Thanks. I’ll pray about it too. I think he can probably watch it, but I’m just a little unsure.

  9. I did natural egg dyes last year and may do it again this year. Grape juice worked great for purple and ketchup/tomato paste worked well for pinkish-red. I didn’t have the best time trying to get other color, but I do think that red/purple cabbage would work well for blue so I may try that this year. I may just try some food coloring for yellow, green, and orange this year.

    I was also trying to dye brown eggs, very light brown, but I think that may have made it harder to get other colors.

    I’d love to hear how your experience with natural dyes goes. I will hopefully post about our experience soon too.

  10. So we do not come from a faith tradition that observes Lent yet my husband and I do it every year. I find it to be wonderful because it’s helpful in building anticipation for Easter. It makes the anticipation of the resurrection (and second coming by the way) something tangible and a real experience. So many traditions and sacraments are like that – baptism takes place with real water, communion with real crackers and wine/juice, marriage with a ceremony -candle lighting ring etc. . . There seems to be much more meaning when we celebrate special events with tangible expressions of faith!

  11. Our church participates in “Passover Week” where each night we read in Scripture and have a lesson about what happened the week leading up to Jesus’s death. We’ll also participate in His last supper on Thursday night as a church family. If you have a church in the area that does this, I’d highly recommend it. There is nothing more sobering than sitting in silence Friday night, remembering what was happening over 2000 years ago… for you, for me.

    Thank you for the idea on the movie. I’ve got our Easter books stashed with all the other books, so I think I’ll pull those out separately and pack them away so I can bring them out this time next year. We’re also doing resurrection eggs, our first time, on the recommendation of a friend at church. I’m really looking forward to watching the kids learn!

  12. Thanks for all the suggestions. I have a three and one year old and I would love to start early with traditions like this. I want them to learn Easter is more than the Easter Bunny.

  13. Thanks for all of these ideas. We do some of them, but there are new ideas here which I really appreciate. I didn’t know about the Jesus film for kids, so I will watch that with my son. I might also make the cake. We have read Benajamin’s Box lots of times now since last year and I made up my own Resurrection Eggs (but at this moment can’t find them, alas). Thanks for the list–it’s very helpful.

    1. Also, I love the Jesus Storybook Bible. It’s our regular nightly Bible reading. We’ve just started using it in our kids church class too.

  14. We are Catholic so fasting on Friday is one thing that I would add to that great list you made. Even if you have not celebrated Lent before I highly encourage it. There is something about fasting from food that draws one closer to God. My kids still have snacks through the day on Good Friday but they are lighter and not celebratory type. Same with Holy Saturday. It makes Easter Sunday something really special. My girls all gave up candy for Lent this year and my 5 yr old said it has made her think about Jesus every time she sees candy and how much he loves us. That made me smile. Thanks for the great ideas above.

  15. This is my first visit to your site (came from Simple Mom) and I’m so happy to have found you!
    Thanks for all of these great ideas! My boys are ages 2 and almost 4 and I know that the time is right to incorporate more meaningful activities with them. The only idea I had so far was given by a friend earlier this week; it’s an Easter cookie that teaches about the stations of the cross. Each ingredient has a meaning and a scripture to read with it. The cookies go in the oven (“tomb”) overnight and in the morning they’re ready to break open and find that they’re empty! The cookies are meringues, so they’re hollow inside.

    We will also do an egg hunt and make hot cross buns, but I need to do a little more research to discover the meanings behind these so that I can share it with my kids.

    Thanks again for all the great ideas. And I can’t wait to look around on your site!

    1. I’ve always wanted to do Resurrection Cookies, but my littlest one is allergic to eggs. Can’t make them now. Enjoy one for me! (And thanks for your kind words.)

  16. followed a PIN — adore these ideas, and will incorporate a few in to our Easter plans. LOVE the resurrection eggs – reminder of hot cross buns – pretzels and cake! It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed (though, by what I could not tell you ;-)) and neglect sharing this most awesome season of easter with our children. Thank you for sharing your love of Christ!

  17. We do the Resurrection Rolls like Hattie mentioned. They must have made an impression, because I had a five-year-old asking about them as soon as we started talking about Lent. She has also requested that we include “nests” (last year, we did chow mein noodles; this year, think it will be either coconut or Rice Krispie treats) with jelly bean eggs as part of our Easter dinner decor/dessert. We will also dye eggs, have a new Easter dress, and include a spiritual book/Bible in the Easter basket.

  18. There’s a great activity circling the pinterest boards lately…it’s a small garden in a terra cotta saucer with the tomb…roll away the stone on Easter and it’s empty. We just made some for my son’s baptism and it was a big hit and very easy for all ages. Here’s the link:

  19. This is such a great list of ideas! Thank you. We spend so much time preparing for Christmas…. not sure why we don’t spend even more time preparing for the resurrection!!! Blessings to you as you shepherd your children….

  20. For the first time we created a Resurrection Garden. I LOVE IT. It’s spot on in delivering the message of the celebration. Our boys are young men now and I think we’ll explore Maundy Thursday at home. Washing each others feet, communion and scripture. Hot crossed buns for Good Friday too.

  21. We have a Resurrection Roll tradition for Easter breakfast–you take large canned biscuits, wrap each one around a large marshmallow, and then roll the biscuits in sugar. Bake the biscuits exactly as directly on the can, and the marshmallow inside each will dissolve, leaving an “empty tomb” space inside each biscuit. They’re a sweet breakfast treat that we usually eat with some of our dyed eggs and sausage links.

    We do the Resurrection eggs, too–although this will be our first year using “Benjamin’s Box.” We’ve enjoyed the board book “What is Easter?” by Michelle Medlock Adams with our tots.

    We do an egg hunt and snazzy new Sunday outfits (being made new in Christ). And being VeggieTales fans, we’ll watch both “An Easter Carol” and “Twas the Night Before Easter.”

    I heard a wiser woman than me suggest emphasizing lambs over bunnies for Easter (in decor, basket treats, etc)–since Christ was our Lamb.

  22. I would love to read a post on your view of Santa, the Easter Bunny, tooth fairy, etc. We don’t celebrate these characters in our house and would like to hear how you handle the topic.

    1. In a nutshell, they know the stories, but they know the truth, too. They also know not to blab too loudly around other kids so’s not to ruin what other families have chosen. That’s the short story. 😉

      1. That’s pretty much exactly how we handle these topics. My son is too young for the tooth fairy yet, but that’s my plan. Santa’s the toughest because he’s so fun. I don’t “dis” Santa and let it be a fun story. This year we got a book on the traditional story of Nicholas. I want him to see Santa as a good man who cared for people, but to know that Christmas is about Jesus.

        1. We don’t “do” those guys either. Same story here, ours know that they are just stories and we try to put the emphasis on what we feel are the important parts of those holidays/events. That being said, my six year old told me yesterday that his “heart wants to believe the Easter bunny is real,” so I told him to have at it 🙂 We talked about how the Easter bunny wants to spread joy and love, and that’s a wonderful thing to believe in.

          1. That is so sweet. I love how kids love. My son is only four and a half, so I haven’t had to explain things as much as I will from now on, I think. We’ve just searched for eggs without explaining why–it’s a fun thing to get candy is why. 🙂 He knows about the Easter bunny but only in that he’s a fun bunny you see at Easter. I feel good about not lying to him and still letting him enjoy those things.